Rosie Boycott

Is it actually worth reading more of this?

The Shock Doctrine is a book I\’ve long admired, and what came across on sharing a stage with Naomi Klein for the first time was what a stunning researcher and writer she is: an immensely impressive speaker with an incredible command of facts.

Klein? Command of facts?

Well, a little bit more.

The image that came into my mind was of companies like Halliburton and Honeywell soaring like vultures above our civilisation and looking for that dead body: when they see those disasters it\’s a mealticket for them.

Ain\’t that actually rather marvellous? Private companies maintaining the infrastructure to help and aid those in peril when disaster strikes?

Clean Development Mechanism

I\’ve no doubt at all that this is being abused but I\’m really not sure about this logic:

A separate study published this week by US watchdog group International Rivers argues that nearly three quarters of all registered CDM projects were complete at the time of approval, suggesting that CDM money was not needed to finance them.

"It would seem clear that a project that is already built cannot need extra income in order to be built," said Patrick McCully, director of the thinktank in California. "Judging additionality has turned out to be unknowable and unworkable. It can never be proved definitively that if a developer or factory owner did not get offset income they would not build their project."

Erm, never heard of borrowing?

When running the cash flow simulations and plans for a new plant, you\’ll look at all of the likely future revenues. Of course this planning process would include the values of any carbon offsets you might be able to claim. If you can indeed claim such, this will tip the calculations, on at least some plans, from unviable to viable.

The banks lending to the projects will also evaluate such plans on likely future cash flows. And they will lend against such future projections, including the value of any credits likely to be available.

So the idea that because a plant is already completed it doesn\’t need or deserve credits is nonsense. Because through the miracle of borrowing we\’ve already included their value in the decision about whether to build or not. Which is of course exactly what borrowing itself does: moves cash flows around in time.

As I say, I\’ve no doubt at all that this is a grossly wasteful scheme which costs a fortune and does not very much (look, it\’s run by the UN, \’nuff said) but this specific reason isn\’t proof of it. What it is is proof that International Rivers and the think tank California have no clue whatsoever about how project finance works.

Yes, Exactly

A Chinese friend of mine who had been active in the democracy movement explained…"Before Tianenmen, we believed that freedom is 90 percent political and 10 percent economic. A few years later, we came to realize that freedom is 90 percent economic and 10 percent political." You may find my friend\’s change of heart troublesome, but think about your own daily life and then try to tell me that second formula isn\’t a better description of how things really work for the vast majority of Americans.

Bravo! Bravo!

Sir Simon:

The same laws of economics apply to the price of oil – and, for that matter, wheat. These are scarce resources. The fact that more people want them is why they are more expensive. When a Labour MP last week cried that petrol should be made cheaper by the government “because it is a necessity”, he might as well have said two plus two equals five. When will these fools be sent for compulsory re-education before they do more damage?

Quite.

A lesson here is offered by the recent experience of wheat prices, caused by a price hysteria in March. The French demanded that the European Union throw more subsidy at their farmers – confirming my view that a French economist is a contradiction in terms.

Although we would make an exception for M. Bastiat.

Price always tends to bring supply and demand into equilibrium, if left free to do so within an intelligent regulatory framework. Subtleties and complications surround this principle but, for starters, “That is all you know, and all ye need to know,” said the poet.

You can abuse the market, distort it, subsidise it or tax it, but it is rooted in human nature and will prove your master in the end. Far better to add economics to the core curriculum in every school and make it a qualification for any who would dare to embark on the profession of government.

Or, in the phrase which I stole from the Angry Economist, you can ignore economics, but economics isn\’t going to ignore you.

Eeeek!

David Miliband is preparing to throw his hat into the ring in a leadership contest to “save new Labour” after the party’s disastrous defeat in last week’s Crewe & Nantwich by-election.

A couple of years ago I started making references to The Boy Dave (M) and The Boy Dave (C). No, I really didn\’t do this on the grounds that I hoped to see our choice as PM distill down to one of these two.

Well, Yes, We Knew This

Nor is it clear that organic saves the environment. A biochemist at Edinburgh University, Anthony Trewavas, has shown that organic uses more energy per tonne of food produced because the yields are lower. Also, because it requires more land – roughly twice as much as conventionally grown food – it means there is less available to be left unfarmed for biodiversity.

As for the oft-cited claim that organic food stops you ingesting tons of deadly cancer-causing pesticides – this got short shrift from Sir John Krebs of the Food Standards Agency. He wrote in Nature magazine: "A single cup of coffee contains natural carcinogens equal to at least a year\’s worth of carcinogenic synthetic residues in the diet."

Something of a scam then. But then we knew that too.

Oh, Great.

The protest leaders predict the event will be the capital\’s biggest ever demonstration over fuel.

Hundreds of lorries will drive through the city in convoy and at low speeds on Tuesday while a delegation takes a letter to 10 Downing Street demanding an immediate fuel duty rebate for lorry drivers.

This would happen on the one (highly infrequent) day that I\’m in London, wouldn\’t it? I have a feeling that it\’ll be the tube between appointments, not the cab….

Flyposting

A terrible crime, a ghastly one that must be stamped out, I\’m sure you agree.

A woman was threatened with a fine by her local council for putting posters on lampposts to find the owners of a lost cat. Public-spirited Joy Tracey wanted to reunite Copper the ginger tom with his owners after he was found whimpering in a garden.

The grandmother-of-three traipsed around animal shelters, vets and pet shops in a bid to help the cat. She also put adverts in her local paper and called the RSPCA, but drew a blank.

So after two weeks, and desperate to help the homesick pet, the former secretary printed 12 laminated, A5-sized posters. Tracey tied them to lampposts near her home in Denton, Greater Manchester, advertising her telephone number and asking for help for the lost animal. A day later uniformed council patrollers spotted the offending ads.

Tracey had fallen foul of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992, Clauses A, B and F, and Tameside council was determined to enforce the rules. She was telephoned from the council offices and ordered to remove the posters.

Aren\’t we lucky to have such caring and sensible rulers?